Editor’s Note: The latest episode of Gay Chicago TV’s LGBT politics show “Critical Thinking Hosted by Waymon Hudson” takes on the topic of super PACs, specifically the new lesbian super PAC LPAC, which is the first political action committee focused directly on amplifying the political power of the lesbian community.
After the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, money poured into elections with the creation of super PACs — political action committees that can raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations, and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates.
While the vast majority of that unlimited money has been flowing directly to conservative groups and causes, like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, progressives are trying to play catchup to the new, no-holds-barred rules of campaign finance. And it is certainly an uphill battle. Conservative super PACs have far outpaced their liberal counterparts in 2012, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. Liberal super PACs spent a total of $31.1 million dollars through the end of July, while conservatives spent $137.1 million dollars — over four times as much.
One group trying to balance that out is LPAC. The organization intends to back federal and state candidates as well as some ballot measures. All targets of the group’s support must back an end to discrimination for LGBT individuals; reproductive rights and access to quality health care; and social, racial, and economic justice.
LPAC’s advisory board includes powerful women like Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts and longtime LGBT leader Urvashi Vaid. The group has also drawn support from prominent women in the lesbian community, like Jane Lynch and Billie Jean King.
To help break down the issues around super PACs, this episode of “Critical Thinking” features an in-depth discussion with LPAC chair and spokesperson Sarah Schmidt about the group’s mission, the races they are throwing their support behind, how LPAC is focusing on transparency with donors, and why having women’s voices in politics is vital for our country.
The mission of LPAC and their important efforts to get strong, progressive women into office is highlighted by the recent attacks on women’s rights we’ve seen this political cycle, from stomach-churning “legitimate rape” rhetoric to laws requiring forced ultrasounds to regressive attacks on birth control.
The topic of super PACs and money in politics is extremely complex but vitally important as we move forward with issues we care about. If we didn’t use superPACs for our causes, we’d be handicapping ourselves and our issues by not trying to combat the outpouring of conservative and anti-LGBT money flowing to our opponents. We also need to change these laws around money in politics and fix the damage created by Citizens United and unlimited spending by super PACs.
There is no simple answer. But one thing is clear: We must fight against this broken political system and still live in it so we can effect that change. Sitting on the sidelines is not an option. It’s like they say in politics: If you don’t have a seat at the table, most likely you’re on the menu.